Today's Red Dress Club prompt is a one-word speed write (a.ka. flash memoir) on the word "Crash" ten minutes ... here goes:
Crumpling metal. Squealing tires. Shattering glass. Screaming girls. A heart-felt 'I told you so' from the driver of the cars we'd so recently passed on that twisting mountain road. I remember most one bystander with a parrot on his shoulder, and streams of guano down his back. Who are you to tell us how to do better, bird-shit man?
I didn't know then that car crash would also be the end of our friendship. As the glacier-fed river trickled past. As my friend was released from the drivers' side of the car. As I was helped into a stopped RV and offered a stiff drink to calm my nerves, the rage built. Every shaking nerve in my body wanted to scream 'YOU TRIED TO KILL ME!'
I knew it was crazy. That really she was just young and reckless and inexperienced. That two 18 year old girls on a shopping spree weekend were very likely candidates for a single-car accident. That she'd been pushing the limits of her vehicle the whole way. That she was the one now injured, whereas I was merely shaken up. And in that moment, I hated her.
Crisp mountain air spiced with pine slowly re-filled my lungs. I breathed deeply and once again I swallowed my rage. I told someone my dad worked just up the highway another 20 miles, and they went to let him know what happened.
But I couldn't look at her. And I resented the attention and sympathy she got as she crutched her way up and down the hallways for the rest of the school year, and across the graduation stage three weeks later.
It's been 26 years ... and I'm still a bad passenger on mountain roads.